GET READY FOR A SPIKE IN HOUSING DEMAND from foreign-born residents by the end of the decade. According to a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center, immigration peaked in 1999 and 2000. But immigrants tend to hit their peaks in home buying about 10 years after moving to the United States.
In “Rise, Peak, and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigration, 1992–2004,” Jeffrey Passel and Roberto Suro detail the rise in immigration through the 1990s, topping out at more than 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants moving to the United States in both 1999 and 2000. That number dropped to about 1.1 million in 2003 but increased again in 2004, possibly due to increased illegal immigration.
The report points out that the numbers tend to move “most notably with the performance of the U.S. economy”—namely, foreign-born people came to the United States during the boom years of the late 1990s and shied away after the economic shock of 9/11.
After 9/11, stricter immigration laws also curtailed legal immigration. Passel and Suro attribute more than 60 percent of the decline in immigration between 2000 and 2003 to fewer legal immigrants. By 2003 and continuing through 2004, illegal immigration surpassed legal entry.
The patterns of the past 12 years aren't enough, Passel says, to forecast future immigration trends. “It's an area where we really don't have a sound basis for forecasting,” he says. Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies wrote earlier this year in its “State of the Nation's Housing” report that it expects about 1.2 million or 1.3 million immigrants annually through 2015, but Nicolas Retsinas, the Joint Center's director, concurs that immigration data are difficult to pinpoint. One piece we do know: Immigrants' children will drive many future household formations. The Joint Center reported last year that during the last decade, the number of first-generation Americans aged 11 to 20 jumped 63 percent; among children of native-born Americans, that figure grew only 8 percent.
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